This material was produced by The Victorian Space Science Education Centre, Melbourne, Australia
Keeping Animals in Space – Teacher Notes
As this lesson is primarily focused on brainstorming the requirements for animal habitats in
space the background information covers some of the habitats actually used on space
A habitat is the natural environment in which an animal will live. It is not restricted to the
animal’s home but includes all the land an animal needs to hunt, find food, find a mate and
raise a family. Different combinations of light, air, soil and water along with climate and
topography form different habitats.
The four key components of an animal’s habitat are food, water, shelter and space.
Different animals require different amounts of space or territory. Due to housing needs for
the animals and to ensure that the correct conditions are maintained a large amount of
consideration and planning goes into taking animals into space. Generally the simpler the
form of life the easier it is to keep in space. There is substantial design and engineering
effort employed in developing the correct habitat for the animals; they must be supplied
with an artificial environment providing everything they need to survive while the habitat
must be kept to minimum size and weight to be carried into space.
All of the animal payloads
that have been carried on the
Space Shuttle have been
housed in the mid‐deck area
or within a laboratory module
configured for the cargo bay.
The orbiter mid‐deck area is
the housing option most
frequently used when rodents
are carried into space. The
mid‐deck has 42 lockers that
can be used for experiments
and payloads. When rodents
are going to be launched on
the Space Shuttle one to three
of lockers are reconfigured
with Animal Enclosure Modules (AEMs). These are the habitats in which the animals will